Progressive Breakfast for March 6

Morning Message

A Sober Look at the Good News in February Jobs Report

The February Jobs Report – 295,000 new jobs, official unemployment ticking down to 5.5% – exceeds Wall Street expectations. ... The monthly jobs report is just a marker. The real question is the effect the jobs growth will have on the Federal Reserve governors. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has already suggested that the Fed will signal this month that it is gearing up to raise rates, with most analysts predicting a rate increase by June if jobs growth remains robust. But this is surely premature. Workers have not yet shared in the recovery.

More Jobs, Flat Wages

BLS reports 295,000 new jobs in February but meager wage gains: “… the unemployment rate edged down to 5.5 percent … The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 59.3 percent in February but is up by 0.5 percentage point over the year … average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents to $24.78. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0 percent.”

Right-Wing Bedevils Boehner

Right-wing Freedom Caucus threatens Boehner’s ability to govern. Politico: “Although they clearly lost the fight over DHS funding, the Freedom Caucus is beginning to show that it is a force that requires leadership’s attention. They are showing legislative sophistication, defying the perception of a ragtag collection of demagogues … With the backing of popular conservatives, they have changed the definition of what legislation meets conservative muster …”

Dems won’t let Boehner get overthrown. The Hill: “…Democrats from across an ideological spectrum say they’d rather see Boehner remain atop the House than replace him with a more conservative Speaker who would almost certainly be less willing to reach across the aisle in search of compromise … ‘Then we would get Scalise or somebody? Geez, come on,’ said [Rep. Raul] Grijalva, who referenced House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). ‘We can be suicidal, but not stupid.'”

“Center-right” group runs ads to protect Boehner allies. Politico: “The American Action Network, a group allied with House Republican leadership, is placing a six-figure buy for television advertisements to thank several GOP lawmakers for voting to fund the Department of Homeland Security. The beneficiaries of AAN’s $350,000 TV campaign are Reps. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Susan Brooks and Todd Young of Indiana and Dan Benishek of Michigan.”

While Pelosi Remains a Force

Pelosi still wields power. W. Post: “Their strategy? Stick together when the other side doesn’t. It sounds simple enough. But it wasn’t always clear to Democratic leaders that they could pull it off … Democrats say they are optimistic about holding members together in the next big legislative debates. But they could encounter difficulties in [other] areas … There are some potential rough patches, like trade…”

“Pelosi hears from moderates on economic agenda” reports Politico: “Nearly 30 members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderates, huddled with the California Democrat in a closed-door lunch meeting to sell a more centrist economic message than the one touted by the White House and national Democrats last year … The group is calling for tax reform that ‘helps businesses compete,’ trade deals to expand exports and infrastructure investment…”

Democratic women propose free birth control in Medicaid. The Hill: “The bill would also launch a study of the abortion access, create new training programs for nurses who specialize in women’s health and ensure that all hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims.”

Anti-Union Momentum In Midwest

Gov. Scott Walker leads anti-union charge in Midwest. Politico: “With passage expected as early as Friday, right to work — which allows workers not to pay dues to a union that bargains collectively on their behalf — is progressing through the states more swiftly than at any time since the 1950s. And where once such measures were confined largely to the South and West, they‘re now taking root in Midwestern union strongholds like Indiana and Michigan, which passed right-to-work laws in 2012.”

Papa John’s found liable for wage theft. Reuters: “A New York judge ordered a Papa John’s pizza restaurant franchise and its owner to fork over more than $2 million after short-changing hundreds of delivery workers and shaving hours from their paychecks … The judgment comes amid a national debate over minimum wage laws that has sparked protests by fast-food employees and prompted cities across the United States to propose wage increases for their lowest-paid workers.”

Big Pizza symbol of corrupt politics, says NYT’s Paul Krugman: “Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans … the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco … a case study in the toxic mix of big money, blind ideology, and popular prejudices…”